A surprise day free of lectures was only ever going to spent one way. You guessed it! Kayak fishing! A dash to the east coast was very much on the cards.
The word that I had received from a few quarters was that the mackerel were finally in, arriving on the east coast. Their arrival usually sees hoards of fishermen out casting feathers hoping to capitalise on these easily caught fish. I was happy to hear of their arrival for another reason; a big school of mackerel attracts bigger predators. It was time to try my luck for tope.
After launching from a shingle beach it soon became apparent that the mackerel were not in on this mark. I covered a lot of water and spent two hours looking for mackerel and for that two hours of searching, methodically working feathers through various layers of the water column, I had a return of five mackerel. Pathetic. Granted, I was only going to take five or six anyway but the time consumed in locating and catching them was time that could have been spent targeting and catching tope.
The turn of the tide would see it flow against the south easterly wind and I feared that this could potentially turn the sea a little ‘lumpy’. I needed to get bait down for marauding tope as fast as I could. With the bait secured I rigged up my Mitsu Circle Extra hook with a full mackerel and sent it to the bottom. This is when the waiting game began……
As it happened, I did not have to wait long. Within ten minutes of the bait hitting the sea bed I was into a run. Letting the fish run downtide for a couple of seconds, I flipped the reel into gear and struck hard and cleanly into an angry tope. Maybe confused by what had just happened, the fish stopped swimming and started head shaking. After a couple of shakes he woke up and tore downtide again, all the while feeling heavy pressure from the angler above him.
Realising that this tactic wasn’t working, the tope turned and ran uptide well past the anchored kayak and resumed his head shaking. Another few minutes of runs and tussles and the tope was sitting next to the kayak. It was from here that I was able to see the the Mitsu Extra Circle hook had performed perfectly as the hook was observed right in the middle of the lower jaw. Hoisting the fish onto my lap for the obligatory photo, the hook popped out easily with the help of some pliers.
Supporting him sitting facing into the tide, he soon regained his strength and was gone to the depths again with a couple of flicks of his tale. A modest sized male fish that was good fun to catch and put up a spirited battle in the choppy water. Elated with the positive start, I slowed things down a little while I took stock of the situation; the tide soon turned and the sea was starting to become ‘challenging’ with white horses appearing all around. Conditions were doable for kayak fishing but trying to haul a large female aboard would have been difficult and potentially very dangerous. Common sense prevailed and I decided to head for home.
Catching tope is always fun and the paddle back to shore allows me to reflect on the events that have unfolded during any session on the water. Two hours to find a couple of mackerel and then it only took ten minutes to hit the first tope. Does this observation tell its own story?